Growth, depth and connection: the power of changing my focus

How are you doing in the shifting sands of 2021? Here, I’m waiting to see how the rules change (again) in the next week. As of today, there’s news of “a new Brazilian strain” arriving through our airports.

The past twelve months have been packed with false promises and false starts -fifty-four weeks of “two weeks to flatten the curve” and still counting.

I don’t know where I would be without the memes and humour shared with my friends about the situation.

If I didn’t laugh through the last year, poking fun at every crisis that came along, I can’t imagine how badly I would need to cry!

Oh God of the Coronavirus, please take our politicians as an offering to take this curse from us. P.S. sorry for the miserable offering
Welcome 2021! Sit down, because we need to discuss the rules! Covid memes

The solitude of lock-down

Schools have been closed here since March 10, 2020. And while businesses started to re-open in May 2020, things were very haphazard until September 2020. During those first months, little miss 7 (6 at the time) and I were alone together in a little “bubble”. You can read more about those initial challenges in my blog post “How to build your village, because you need one.”

Life seemed like it might be “business as usual, with masks and social distancing” from September through November. Except there were no Independence Day celebrations, and it was “rainy season” – a time when we would usually stay indoors because of the weather. So, while we were allowed back out to exercise, the weather wasn’t conducive to enjoying going for walks.

As we headed into summer in December, they announced that there would be a new lock-down because of rising case numbers. Beaches never re-opened, nor outdoor activities or parks.

A locked-down Christmas.

Instead, we went back to essential businesses only (by December 15) and then total lock-down on the 24th. The only pharmacies open were in the hospitals and ER. Everything else, including supermarkets and gas stations, was closed.

Essential businesses re-opened on the 28th and then closed again on December 31st. They re-opened on the 5th.

Christmas and New Years were essentially just spent at home: just the two of us.

Lock-down continued through January, with essential businesses, and then in February we were able to go back out for walks and runs, and other companies (not restaurants).

There have also been strict travel restrictions between provinces.

External circumstances

But the reality is, those are all external circumstances -things which I cannot control.

If it’s true I was shell-shocked and numb in the first months, frozen rather than jumping into action, eventually, I realised that waiting for it to get better was not a viable option.

frozen, fight, flight, freeze, trauma response, afraid, tired, exhausted,

When your natural trauma response is to freeze, it’s hard to recognise where to put your focus! There were many, many days when I was so overwhelmed that I would spend an hour (sometimes a couple of hours) lying on my bed just exhausted. It felt like all the exhaustion of the past decade had surfaced and begged me to rest.

Twelve months later, I’m relieved it only took me a couple of months to realise that there would be long-term instability.

The only way I managed to regain some sanity was to recognise that I could only focus and put energy into that which I could control. Putting any focus or energy on everything beyond my control was counterproductive.

It is hard to focus your attention when you are stressed and turn it away from your circumstances and onto something productive.

Where attention goes, energy flows.

What am I creating?

I don’t think that I excelled in 2020.

Let’s say, “I held it together“. Or at least, I didn’t completely fall apart.

I see it more as a year of tearing down the old and building foundations for the new. I deliberately choose to focus my attention on three areas:

  1. Personal growth, in particular dealing with shadow aspects of my self
  2. Deepening my roots and resilience
  3. Connection, relationships & support

Focus on Personal Growth

If “all knowing is doing”, then 2020 showed me that all my learning and personal development had given me many tools for dealing with the unexpected. Still I was pitiful at putting it into practice.

I came face-to-face in 2020 with my shadows, weaknesses and self-sabotage.

Well, well, well... If it isn't the consequences of my own actions.

2020 was replete with time for reflection and self-awareness. I got to see, up close and personal, all my behaviour patterns, especially self-sabotage, even concerning my health and healing journey.

I had to ask myself, “am I committed to healing my gut and getting my health back?” How much desire and will do I have to make all the changes necessary consistently? Over the past thr ee years, I have done a lot of work on healing the emotional scars and wounds that impacted my health, but it was time to bring the focus back to the physical aspects of rebuilding health.

On another level, I had to ask: “What do I need to let go of?” because it is no longer working for me. There were so many aspects of my life that I was clinging to “because I’ve always done it this way”, rather than exploring new ways of doing things.

So, while 2020 included a lot of reading, it was a lot more about “what do I need to let go of and what personal habits do I need to adopt?”. A big part of this was “stop being busy” and sit with the uncomfortable emotions and feelings that you haven’t made the time to face.

Now is the time.

Focus on deepening my roots and resilience

Hard on the heels of recognising that I needed to sit with the uncomfortable was a recognition that I needed to deepen my roots and resilience. The trees that best weather a storm or a drought are deep in the ground with their roots.

While I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time reading and studying the power of eight, intentions and the bond that connects us all, I’ve spent more time putting it into practice.

It makes you start to wonder how everything is everything, and it all comes together in “The Bond”
It’s incredible what we can create when we set our mind to it!
If I had to recommend one of these three books, it would be this one!

I also made time in November to practice 30 days of EFT with a partner – and I would certainly recommend that to anyone. Perhaps of even more significant impact was giving myself the time & space to practice Ho’oponopono and forgiveness on anything that came up during these twelve months.

In many ways, it was a time of softening: of vulnerability and opening up. If you remember the third beatitude, it reads, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” But there’s another translation of this that I have discovered and love:

Neil’s translation is: Healthy are those who have softened what is rigid within; they shall receive physical vigour and strength from the universe.

How do we find the spiritual roots of resilience?

As crazy as it might seem, I even made a “God Box” for want of a better description. Anytime something came up and was on my mind, I would write it on a piece of paper and “stick it in the box” beyond my control. If there is nothing that I can do about it, then hand it over to God/the Universe/Source – and allow myself the peace of mind of knowing that it’s not mine to handle. In many ways, it was the symbolic letting go of the many challenges of 2020 that were beyond me—acknowledging that there was nothing I could do and that I had to trust that they would work out “somehow”.

Hand-in-hand, however, with the God Box is the practice of recognising what is within my control and where my attention and focus should go. What action can I take? What decisions do I need to make? Therein lies the rub.

Dad always used to say:

Pray as if you were physically handicapped and depended totally on God to do everything for you. Then work as if there were no God and it depends entirely on you.

I’m still struggling to find that balance of living in the presence of the Divine, trusting in Source and Spirit, and yet remaining fully responsible for the results of my actions or inaction.

Focus on connection, relationships & support

If there is one thing that I came out of 2020, understanding it’s the human need for connection. Even for us introverts! No matter how hyper-independent trauma has made me, I need support and fellowship!

Thankfully, I’ve learned how to ask for it and created places in which I can receive it.

Firstly, I have to say that I don’t know what I would have done in 2020 without Wendy Bruce! I reached out to her in May of 2020 when I realised that I was “losing the plot” and needed to get grounded and focused on consistently moving forward, one step at a time. In times of trouble, sometimes we need accountability to keep us moving forward, no matter how small the steps!

I also owe a deep debt of gratitude to Zandra for getting together with me on a learning and personal growth journey. I would not have made it through a whole lot of books in 2020 without her participation and support. Some weeks we met up to three times a week and even up to daily in December 2020 when we were in total lock-down and reading “The 21-day Consciousness Cleanse” together. Those were life-changing days.

Sammy Dee also played an essential role in keeping me sane through 2020, helping me build Ditch the Diet & Face the Feelings on both YouTube and Mighty Networks! It would NOT have happened at all without her techie expertise and time! I don’t reach her knees when it comes to this type of experience!

Friends and family are equally important: not just those you learn & grow with!

While my best friend might live thousands of miles across the oceans, we still managed to schedule regular calls every week or two to catch up in London!

I also made it a priority to have two calls a week with my mum & dad. This was particularly essential to my mental health, as most times little miss would take over the call and spend an hour on the phone with my parents, giving me an hour-long break! I had no idea how much I needed that break!

Coffee Chats & book club

A final essential in building connection was intentionally setting up space to grow with others.

Firstly, whenever we were in strict lock-down, I set up an appointment option in my calendar for “coffee chats”. These were times I made available to talk with anyone that needs “to grab a coffee with someone”. As I recognised what I needed, I also wanted to make sure I gave others that same type of support. And I had some fantastic conversations. Sometimes with total strangers! And that was amazing too.

Finally, I made sure to continue building connections through my book club.

Starting after Easter, I’m diving into nine weeks of “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” by Dr Joe Dispenza.

In March 2020, we read through mBraining: Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff, followed by Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life“. A slightly heavier read was “It didn’t start with you” by Mark Wolynn, but it gave me pause to consider generational trauma. Then, we dove into “The Three Brains” by Karen Jensen, and that is largely responsible for some changes to the way I approach my healing journey. We briefly skipped through “Sleep to be Sexy, Smart and Slim“, before finishing up with “90 Seconds to a Life you Love” by Joan Rosenberg.

This year, I’ve revisited mBraining: Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff with a group of mBIT Coaches.

Be still my soul

I have no idea what’s in store in 2021. I’m expecting more uncertainty and foresee more lock-downs happening locally. More “two weeks to flatten the curve”.

Nonetheless, 2020 showed me that I have developed “a peace that surpasses understanding” – an inner sense of “all is well” even when there is chaos in the world around me.

While I have spent more time in meditation and silence than ever before, I still have no idea what “my Divine purpose or path” is. Until I get a clearer image of the path ahead, I will continue to prepare.

Life has taught me that luck is where preparation and opportunity collide: the harder I work, the luckier I get.

Like many times before, I am preparing for an opportunity without actually having a clear vision of the opportunity. I have clarity on what the preparation is, so I continue to take small steps forward, knowing that I prepare for the moment when opportunity knocks.

In the meantime, I’m focusing my energy on those things I can control and work towards.

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